Delayed report of natural gas leak concerns Madison Fire Department

Caller waited nearly 7 hours to report leak
Delayed report of natural gas leak concerns Madison Fire Department

The Madison Fire Department is reminding people how serious gas leaks are after a caller waited to report a leak to avoid evacuating his apartment building.

Madison Fire Department Public Information Officer Cynthia Schuster said firefighters got a call Tuesday morning for a report that natural gas had been smelled. The caller smelled the gas coming from a neighboring apartment in the Metropolitan Place Condos on West Mifflin Street.

“There were high concentrations of natural gas in the building,” Schuster said. “They ultimately found that the gas was coming from an open knob on the stove that had apparently been left on overnight.”

Firefighters evacuated the apartment and aired it out. They also talked to the neighbor who called 911. He told them he first smelled the gas around 11 p.m. Monday but didn’t report it because he didn’t want to make people in the building evacuate so late at night.

“Anything could have happened in that timespan between 11 p.m. when they first smelled it and a quarter to 6 when it was first reported,” Schuster said. “We hate to think about what could have happened in that time frame.”

The fire department is using the incident as a reminder for people to always call if they think they smell gas, to which a rotten egg smell is added.

“Sometimes it’s nothing. Sometimes people mistake sewer gas for natural gas, but we’re happy to check it out,” Schuster said. “We would rather come to a call where someone suspects natural gas and find that it’s nothing than not be called at all.”

Natural gas leaks can lead to fires or explosions that can be triggered by something as simple as flipping on a light switch.

“We’re just grateful that nothing like that occurred,” Schuster said.

She said if someone smells natural gas, they should leave the area immediately and not touch anything electrical that could spark or start an explosion. Once in a safe place, they should call 911.

The fire department also reminds people to make sure appliances are turned off when they’re not being used.